The recent Porter Adventist Hospital sterile processing breach is a stark reminder of the critical impact device sterilization has on producing positive surgical outcomes. The challenges faced by sterile processing departments are well documented, including backlogs of trays to be sterilized for upcoming cases, a myriad of Instructions for Use (IFUs) to be adhered to, long hours, along with many devices that can be especially difficult to clean. Keeping devices positioned correctly in surgical trays during processing, as well as waiting for the IFUs to be provided by vendors or sales reps can also create challenges.
Finding ways of streamlining sterile processing while also ensuring the integrity of the devices’ sterility are going to be key to preventing breaches like the the one in Denver. There is no room for error as the Porter Adventist example clearly shows; the risks to the patient are too great.
What other challenges face sterile processing departments? What opportunities exist to improve these processes?